Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law
Alan T. Ackerman
Ackerman Ackerman & Dynkowski, Bloomfield Hills
The proposed government bridge between Detroit and Windsor will require as much as two square miles of land, or some 1,300 acres, to provide for roads, interchanges, a customs plaza, and other needs. The project, which is estimatedexpected to cost $3.6 -billion, project slated for southwest Detroit would also be one of the state’s largest public takings of private land.
“Right now, businesses and property owners in the area [southwest Detroit] should be concerned, but the real action starts if the state gets to the point of sending out letters to start the acquisition process,” says Alan T. Ackerman, who has been an expert in condemnation and eminent domain law for 40 years. A partner with Ackerman Ackerman & Dynkowski in Bloomfield Hills, Ackerman has represented land owners affected by the building of Comerica Park and Ford Field, the three casinos, corporations, and numerous other assemblages.
The so-called New International Trade Crossing is being envisioned in a difficult environment, and may never be built. On a competitive level, the private owner of the Ambassador Bridge also plans to build a new span. Meanwhile, cross- border traffic has dropped by 50 percent since 1999, and shows no signs of recovering soon. The state also claims no tax dollars will be used to build its crossing, although millions of dollars have already been spent on studies, planning, and legislative hearings.
Ackerman advises landowners involved in an eminent domain matter to hire counsel at the outset. “Don’t speak with anyone about the value of what you believe your land is worth,” he adds. “An appraiser could use that against you. The state also must pay for borings and provide written correspondence to your queries. I also advise land owners to maintain their property, as things could fall through.”
The largest current projects involving eminent domain include property for electric transmission lines to service wind turbines, solar arrays, and future growth, as well as oil pipelines. “The bottom line is that property owners have rights, and they need to be protected,” Ackerman says. —R.J. King